AFib is a leading cause of stroke, which kills 1 in 20 Oklahomans.

Sounding the Alarm on Atrial Fibrillation

Because stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in Oklahoma, INTEGRIS is joining a national effort to observe Atrial Fibrillation Month throughout the month of September. Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, is an irregular heartbeat, or a condition in which the atria fail to contract in a strong, rhythmic way. When a heart is in AFib, it may not be pumping enough oxygen-rich blood out to the body. Consequently, AFib is the leading cause of stroke.

Because more than 1,800 Oklahomans died of stroke in 2016, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin issued a proclamation commemorating the month saying “ … it is fitting and proper to acknowledge the importance of atrial fibrillation awareness and gain support for advancing treatment and acknowledge the tireless battle that doctors, medical researchers, and health care providers and advocates wage to help our citizens live longer, heart-healthier lives …”

Recognizing the importance of this public health issue to Oklahomans, State Rep. Chris Kannady introduced a resolution declaring the same.

“All of us know of someone or have a family member that has been affected by a stroke,” said Dr. Richard Lane, a cardiac electrophysiologist at INTEGRIS Heart Hospital. “We all know how devastating that can be to the person and their family. We are grateful our elected leaders are drawing attention to this important public health issue. Let us do all we can to educate ourselves and raise awareness of atrial fibrillation signs and symptoms.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control an estimated 2.7–6.1 million people in the United States have AFib, a number that is expected to increase with the aging of the U.S. population. Because AFib cases increase with age and women generally live longer than men, more women than men experience AFib. Approximately 2% of people younger than age 65 have AFib, while about 9% of people aged 65 years or older have AFib.

As soon as you notice the symptoms of AFib, contact your physician. Even if your symptoms go away, it’s still important to have a physical exam and monitor your heart’s activity.

Symptoms may include:

  • A racing, fluttering, pounding or irregular- feeling heartbeat
  • Fatigue, dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Shortness of breath or fainting
  • Anxiety

For more information about the causes, symptoms and treatments of AFib, check out the CDC fact sheet.